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We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball MP3 CD – Audiobook, July 28, 2015
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But the text alone isn't what makes this book so great. The artwork is stunning in this oversize book, and hardly a page goes by that doesn't have a full page painting (including one fold-out). Some are simple poses of the men on the field and a few show them getting off trains or riding on the bus, but my favorites are the ones that show the action of the game. Several would be good enough to hang on the wall (as reprints, of course, not cut from the book). It has a look and style of the old depression-era artwork that was used in murals and public places.
My little-league son and I have been reading the book and have both learned a lot. Of course, segregation is a recurrent theme, and it's embarrassing to me that this is how things used to be, but I think it's important that my children understand how it affected real people. But we both enjoy reading not only of the challenges faced, but also the joys they had in playing the game we both love and their triumphs. The forward by Hank Aaron and the part about Jackie Robinson are nice in that regard. This is a beautiful book that baseball fans of any color will enjoy.
One of the unique aspects of this book is that it avoids the hyperbole so common as regards the truly great players who were denied their rightful place in the Bigs. However, one account from a white umpire did strike me. He said that if the players in the (white) major leagues played like this, they would have to make the parks and stadiums bigger, so many more people would come out to see the games. Not an exact quote, but that was the gist of it, and it rings true. Pete Rose was known for hustle, but he would have been just another player in these leagues, because they all played their heart out. And for not much money. It has the appearance of a coffee table book, but it is so much more. It is a work of art. For any true fan of the game, it is a must-own.
Then, last spring, Sports Illustrated featured several more examples of Nelson's artistry, and I decided I had to have this work of art. The copy, though secondary and somewhat elementary for adults, still contains solid information on the leagues and players. Most baseball fans will still learn much they did not know about these unappreciated players and their times. For younger readers, it will be an impressive introduction to a part of baseball history they should know.
The art is superb, and the large pages make it even more impressive. I highly recommended this collection for all baseball fans and art lovers. This is one I will pick up frequently just to page through, and use as a reference for Negro League information. The price is right, too.
Overall, this is a labor of love, and the love shows clearly.